Mustard shortage in France may last for years

Mustard shortage in France may last for years

Both local and international circumstances are at the root of the problem. Only a tiny fraction of the mustard seeds used in France are produced in the country, the remaining amount is imported. Imports, however, are being negatively impacted by political and climate factors.


There is a severe shortage of prepared mustard in France. It may take months to replenish supermarket stocks, or even until early next year. The problem started weeks, in fact, months ago and has several causes.

One of them is the drought in Canada, to which the press called attention as early as last December. The situation then led certain brands to decrease the amount of mustard they distributed, and producers warned that a shortage of the condiment could ensue by January 2022. Although the world-famous Dijon mustard is still produced in Cote d’Or department, a large part of the mustard seeds, 80 per cent, is imported from Canada. The country, however, has experienced a severe drought in the past two years which caused production yields to plummet. While some 135,000 tonnes of mustard seed were produced in 2020, the amount decreased to 99 thousand tonnes by 2021, and by a further 28 per cent to 71 thousand tonnes by the summer of 2022. As a result, Europeenne de Condiments, France’s second largest prepared mustard producer, was only able to import 100 tonnes of mustard seeds from Canada instead of the intended 8000 tonnes.

The situation was further exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine war, which broke out in February. France had imported mustard seeds from both Russia and Ukraine, but supplies from here have also halted.

Mustard seeds are also produced in Burgundy, France but in insufficient quantities to meet market demands. Moreover, the recent heatwave has also had a negative effect on production, as France’s leading mustard producer, Unilever, pointed out. Due to the increasingly difficult global market situation, the company predicts that it will take time to restock store shelves with a full selection of mustard. Luc Vandermaesen, director of Reine de Dijon, also shares this view, saying that it will take quite a while for jars to appear in supermarkets again, with shortages expected to last even until 2024, the French regional paper Midi Libre reports.

However, a winner seems to be emerging despite the crisis, namely Alelor, a family-run business in Alsace, which has been making and selling mustard for about 150 years. Due to the difficulties in importing mustard seed, the company decided to solve production with local farmers. The idea worked, and the firm’s turnover has increased by 30 per cent compared to last year. If sales continue at this rate, turnover growth may reach 60 per cent by the end of the year, Alain Trautmann, the company’s manager, told the Europe 1 newspaper. Sales have expanded significantly both online and in shops, with the firm gaining three times as many customers since May as before. Online sales have also shot up, with a hundred orders being placed in two days whereas previously, they received three to four orders a day. According to the paper, there is a local resident who buys mustard at the Alelor store for his daughter living in Paris, because the condiment is nowhere to be found in the capital.




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